Ontario – Province Boasting Many of Canada’s Top Attractions
Ontario is one of the biggest provinces in the second largest country in the world, so needless to say it’s an impressively large chunk of the planet, roughly the size of Texas and Montana combined. This huge province has over two hundred and fifty thousand lakes, laying claim to about one fifth of the planet’s fresh water. It’s no wonder that sports like fishing, boating, water skiing and swimming are such popular activities in Ontario! Four of the five North American Great Lakes border Ontario: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. These lakes are so massive, you feel as though you’re looking out over an ocean, and Lake Michigan is actually the only one of these giant bodies of fresh water that doesn’t border Ontario. The province is sandwiched between the long stretch of Great Lakes to the south, and the Hudson Bay to the north – which connects to the Atlantic Ocean, making Ontario one watery province.
Given it’s sheer size, Ontario experiences a wide range of different climates at any given time. Covering more than one million square kilometers with features such as the rocky Canadian shield, the thick forests, the Great Lakes, the provincial parks, Niagara Falls, the wine growing region, Hudson Bay to the north, sprawling areas of farmland… You can expect to experience an entirely different feeling season in one part of the province than the other. Even a matter of a couple hundred miles for example, can make an incredible difference due to the province’s features. Winter in Toronto is much milder than it is in Ottawa, even though it’s only a few hours away by car.
Summer temperatures can soar to 30°C (86°F) and beyond, and winters can plummet to the -40°C mark, where the thermometer actually matches up with -40°F. Ontarians make the most of these temperature differences with a huge range of outdoor sports. Downhill and cross country skiing are popular winter sports, as is hockey (played both outdoors and in indoor rinks), ice fishing, riding snow machines along trails, snowshoeing and skating. Summer sees Ontarians outside making the most of the seemingly short season, water skiing, biking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.
Canada’s capital city boasts one of the most tremendous winter festivals in the world, Winterlude – which is actually spread over a variety of locations around the city and neighbouring Gatineau across the river in the province of Québec. During Winterlude, festival goers come from far and wide to take part in some of Canada’s most exciting winter events. French Canadian musicians and singers play traditional music, giant sculptures are carved out of ice and snow, immense ice and snow slides are created several stories high, teams of dogs pull riders on dog sleds, kick sleds are available for a fun race around a track, and maple syrup – one of Canada’s claims to fame – is poured over clean fresh snow and wrapped on a stick for a sweet treat. Winterlude takes place each February when the snow is still covering the ground and the ice on the area’s rivers has thickened and hardened enough to support the weight of thousands of eager skaters, coming to enjoy a skate on one of the world’s longest skating rinks. If you’re coming to Winterlude, make sure you try a Beaver Tail – don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. Beaver Tails are long flat pastries in the shape of a beaver’s tail, traditionally sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, and other ingredients. The Killaloe Sunrise has icing sugar, cinnamon and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The majority of the population of Ontario is concentrated in the southern part of the province, with Toronto (the province’s capital) making up the largest metropolitan area. Toronto is followed by Ottawa (the country’s capital) in terms of population, then Mississauga Ontario. Compared with the southern region of Ontario, the north is very sparse and vast.
When traveling to Ontario, one of the major attractions that you can’t miss is Niagara Falls. One of the special things about Niagara Falls is that you can visit from two countries, each with their own advantages. The Ontario side of Niagara Falls looks out over the Horseshoe or Canadian Falls section of Niagara Falls. Like the name implies, this portion of the falls area is a giant crescent-shaped waterfall reaching over one hundred and seventy feet in height, and carrying almost ten times as much water as its American counterpart. Niagara Falls is definitely one of the top Ontario holiday destinations for both Ontarians and tourists alike. Not only does it attract its fair share of visitors year-round, but Niagara Falls also serves as one of the province’s major sources of electricity.
Highlights of the Niagara Falls region include Queen Victoria Park, next to the Canadian Falls and main site of the annual Winter Festival of Lights. There’s also the area’s historical museum at Lundy’s Lane, a site steeped in the history of a brutal battle between American and British armies in 1814. The Maid of the Mist is an adventurous and iconic Niagara Falls boat tour, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the falls – notorious for leaving tourists soaking wet, which of course, is all part of the experience.
The Butterfly Conservatory located at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens is another of the area’s fascinating attractions. Featuring more than two thousand different colourful tropical butterflies flitting about among the enclosed, flowery site. Greenery and blossoms surround you along the lush garden paths, as you make your way through the conservatory at your own pace on a self guided walking tour through the rain forest setting, past the pond, by the waterfall and the Emergence window where the brand new butterflies unfold their wings to dry before taking flight.
For a part of the globe that receives such harsh and long winters, it’s often surprising that Ontario has a fantastic wine growing region nestled safely within its borders. Decades ago, Canadian wine was something that connoisseurs turned their noses up at. That swiftly changed as some quality wineries began producing wines that were truly remarkable. Today, some of the world’s best wines are coming out of Ontario, Canada. Ontario’s wine industry generates more than six hundred and sixty million dollars in retail sales alone, providing employment across the area of the province and welcoming tourism. A trip to one of the many wineries and vineyards is the perfect romantic escape for couples. Tours of the wine cellars are often paired with sumptuous dinners complemented with fine vintages, great music, and a stroll through the vineyard as the sun sets. The wine growing region within Ontario also has the perfect conditions for producing another one of Ontario’s claims to fame: ice wine. Ice wine is a deliciously sweet dessert wine created from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine from the season’s first frost, before being harvested. The availability of ice wine depends on the season; the vines may not freeze in time before the grapes begin to rot altogether, and the harvest of the grapes has to be done immediately, requiring many able-bodied workers at a moments notice. This, of course, drives up the price and demand for ice wine, making it a highly prized souvenir to bring home from this unique Ontario region.
Although the majority of the visitors coming to Ontario are making the most of the province’s largest urban areas, plenty are coming to get away from it all in one of the world’s most beautiful parks. Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks, covering an area of seven thousand six hundred and thirty square kilometers. This vast provincial park of is home to an abundance of wildlife and plants, and is the perfect playground for nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts from all over the globe.
Visitors to Algonquin Provincial Park can expect to find a beautiful, clean and pristine natural landscape unfolding before them in the form of clear blue lakes, rocky hills, towering green trees, and fast flowing rivers. Some of the most popular ways of enjoying the park include canoeing and camping, or a combination of the two as you make your way along a river route, camping along its shorelines as you go. Backcountry camping is a great way to spend a vacation in Algonquin Provincial Park, but there’s also mountain biking, hiking, boating, and fishing opportunities throughout the provincial park. This Ontario natural attraction is also the place to go for dog sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, swimming and white water canoeing – as well as simply spending a day spotting the wildlife and having a picnic with family or a group of friends. Bikes and canoes can be rented from outfitters in the park, along with scores of other items to help you along your way.
There’s a variety of different ways to spend the night in Algonquin Provincial Park, including camping in your own tent. Alternatives include yurts, campgrounds developed and managed within the park, ranger cabins and lodges. If pitching your own tent isn’t up your alley, check out Arowhon Pines Resort, located 8 kilometres north of Highway 60 at km 15.4 (Arowhon Road) in Algonquin Provincial Park. Get a true taste of Ontario wilderness while you stay in comfort, spring, summer and fall.
You can wile away the hours relaxing in the sun, swimming or canoeing, kayaking or hiking – or simply catching up on a good book while you take refuge far away from the bustle of the city in this fantastic fifty room resort open three seasons a year. There’s an abundance of hiking trails, lakes, and wildlife to keep you entertained while the resort takes care of your meals and lodging. Enjoy the tremendous view overlooking the lake as you dine in the atmospheric dining room of the resort. Bring your own bottle, and why not make it an Ontario wine? And while you’re here, check out the Wolf Howl, an activity fifty years strong in Algonquin Provincial Park. Groups of people from all over the region and the world gather together to howl into the night, and hopefully hear an answer back from a wolf pack. The previous two years have been a bust – cancelled due to a combination of factors including road construction and the absence of a suitable wolf pack within the area of the Wolf Howl, but hopeful howlers aren’t concerned that it’s due to a dwindling wolf population, so three cheers (or howls) for a successful 2016 Wolf Howl.
If you’re hoping to find some historic attractions while visiting Ontario, Kingston is worth a visit. Kingston’s Fort Henry is a popular destination within Ontario, and they really know how to put on a show. Originally constructed during the War of 1812, Fort Henry now exists as a major Ontario tourist attraction, drawing crowds to its incredible fortress to witness ceremonies and demonstrations, drumming, marching, and period costumes. The entire facility acts as a museum and presentation area, and it’s open each year through the Spring, Summer, and Fall. It closes it’s doors during the harsh Ontario winter, as the majority of the site’s features are outdoors – but that doesn’t stop outdoors enthusiasts from enjoying Ontario’s many different winter activities.
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